Blog Posts

Beak of the Week – Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) Family: Cardinalidae Summer Tanagers are medium-sized, chunky songbirds with big bodies and large heads. They have large, thick, blunt-tipped bills. The strawberry-colored male Summer Tanager is the only completely red bird in North America. Adult females have olive-green upperparts and mustard yellow underparts. First spring males […]

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Beak of the Week – Chimney Swift

Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) Family: Apodidae Chimney Swifts are small, grey-brown birds found in Houston from March to October. They are best identified by their silhouette- slender bodies, round heads, long, narrow, curved wings and short, tapered tails. Their wide bills are so short that they are often hard to […]

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Beak of the Week – Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) Family: Anatidae The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a large duck with a long neck, long legs, and short tail. They have a chestnut breast and black belly with a bright pink bill and legs. Their face is gray and has a broad, white wing stipe that is […]

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Raptor Center Images

Controlling Backgrounds in Nature Photography

By Joe V. Smith You just returned from a successful photo shoot with perfect pictures of your favorite animal. Everything came together–pleasing subject, great light, excellent composition, perfect exposure, sharp focus and no camera blur. But when you look at your images you see a problem you missed in the […]

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Oh no, there’s a peacock on my roof!

By Elaine Ross, Houston Audubon Houstonians are noticing an increase in peafowl in their neighborhoods and have been reaching out to local organizations for information on peacocks and peahens. Seeing a bright blue and green peafowl can be a surprising sight on your roof, but they are a familiar neighbor […]

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Beak of the Week – Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) Family: Tyrannidae The Eastern Kingbird is a broad shouldered and big-headed songbird with black head, white underparts and black tail with a white tip. This bird belongs to the one of the oldest and most diverse families of birds, the tyrant flycatchers. Eastern Kingbirds, like many […]

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Beak of the Week – Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) Family: Parulidae The Black-and-white Warbler is a medium-sized warbler with a long, slightly downcurved bill. They are boldly striped in black and white and their black wings have two wide, white wing bars. The males of this species have more pronounced black streaking on their underparts […]

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Join in on the Fun and Help Spread the Word

What Folks are Saying about the New Houston Audubon Conservation License Plate Houston Audubon launched its first-ever conservation license plate sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in June 2021. Since that time, people are proudly displaying their support by ordering plates and placing them on their vehicles. The […]

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Welcome to Kelsey Biles, Houston Audubon’s New Conservation Director!

Please join us in welcoming our new Conservation Director, Kelsey Biles! Kelsey is an avian ecologist with a passion for conservation and public outreach. In her previous years of conservation research, she has led research teams and mentored undergraduate students in deepening their hands-on experience of bird conservation. She frequently […]

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Beak of the Week – Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler (Leiothlypis ruficapilla) Family: Parulidae By Ryan McGinty, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon The Nashville Warbler is a small bird with a yellow underside, olive back, and gray head. They also have a white eye-ring and a little spot of chestnut on their crown, although this is often not visible. […]

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Beak of the Week – Swainson’s Warbler

Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii) Family: Parulidae By Ryan McGinty, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon What one might think of as a boring, brown warbler, the Swainson’s Warbler is a unique bird with many interesting behaviors. Ranging from olive to chestnut, these birds have a dark back, cap, and eyeline to contrast […]

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Beak of the Week – American Golden-Plover

American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica) Family: Charadriidae By Averi Lohman, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon The American Golden-Plover is a very unassuming bird this time of year. Its plumage is a brown-gray color with some darker brown spots and gray ‘armpits’ on the underside of its wings. When it arrives at its […]

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How the Bird-Friendly Spaces Program took flight

By Taylor Rhoades, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2019-2021 In 2018, Houston Audubon joined forces with the Houston Zoo to learn more about what Houstonians are doing to help native and migratory bird species at home and pinpoint the top behaviors that individuals can take to have the largest […]

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Beak of the Week – Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) Family: Parulidae By Ryan McGinty, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon The Louisiana Waterthrush is a large brown warbler with a large bill, long legs, and a short tail. They have a white underside with brown streaking, and a white supercilium that contrasts with the bird’s dark brown […]

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Welcome to Gabriel Durham, Houston Audubon’s Volunteer Manager!

Please join us in welcoming our newest team member, Gabriel Durham! Before Houston Audubon, Gabriel grew up on the road with musician parents. This took him all over the U.S. and he birded out the truck window and in campsites to pass the time. This cultivated a lifelong passion for […]

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Beak of the Week – Mallard

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) Family: Anatidae By Averi Lohman, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon Probably the most generic species of duck is the Mallard, the biggest symbol of waterfowl in most of the US. Males are known for their striking green heads, bright yellow bills, and grey bodies. Females possess a more […]

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Beak of the Week – American Woodcock

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) Family: Scolopacidae By Wyatt Egelhoff, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon Unlike most other North American shorebirds, the American Woodcock is most often found in deciduous or mixed forest/woodlots. This species is often nocturnal, roosting on the ground amongst leaf litter where they are usually incredibly difficult to […]

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Welcome to Elaine Ross, Houston Audubon’s Operations Administrator!

We’re excited to introduce you to one of our newest team members, Elaine Ross! Elaine grew up in Southwest Houston and fostered her love for nature in the protected areas on the Gulf Coast. She double-majored in Poultry Science and Wildlife and Fisheries at Texas A&M University. She has worked […]

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Beak of the Week – Great Egret

Great Egret (Ardea Alda) Family: Ardeidae By Ryan McGinty, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon The Great Egret is a tall white bird with long black legs, a long S-shaped neck, and a sharp yellow bill. Its diet consists of fish and other aquatic animals that it hunts by wading in shallow […]

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In Memoriam – A Tribute to our Feathered Friends

By Mary Anne Weber, Education Director, Houston Audubon 2021 was a tough year for many people. Here at Houston Audubon, we kept focused on bird conservation and education as we have for over 50 years. Working with live animals is both rewarding and difficult, especially when they enter their senior […]

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Beak of the Week – Purple Finch

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) Family: Fringillidae By Averi Lohman, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon While not nearly as widespread as their relative the house finch, purple finches are a beautiful blip of pinkish red that occasionally visit our area and other parts of northeast Texas in the winter. These small birds […]

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Beak of the Week – Winter Wren

Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis) Family: Troglodytidae By Ryan McGinty, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon The Winter Wren is a small dark brown bird with extensive barring on its flight feathers and belly. It has a tan supercilium and its underside is a paler brown than its back. The Winter Wren is […]

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Beak of the Week – Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer) Family: Tyrannidae By Wyatt Egelhoff, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon While not typically encountered in Texas away from the Chisos or Davis mountains in the summer or (irregularly) the Lower Rio Grande Valley in winter, a Dusky-capped Flycatcher was discovered at Houston Audubon’s Smith Oaks Sanctuary in […]

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Beak of the Week – American Bittern

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) Family: Ardeidae The American Bittern is a medium-sized thickset wading heron. They are primarily buff brown with distinctive white streaks on the underside and sides of the neck. Their intricate wing coloration makes them fairly camouflaged when trying to spot them alongside marsh vegetation. While in […]

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Community park leads to a conservation spark

By Royce Daniels, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council One thing I consistently hear people say is that Houston has no natural beauty. If you are reading this, you probably know that is false, at least for the Greater Houston area which is ecologically rich! But in some underserved communities, […]

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Beak of the Week – Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) Family: Regulidae ✏️ By Ryan McGinty, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is named for the ruby crown patch that they display during spring and summer on a singing male. Although the bird is named for its ruby crown this feature is not usually visible […]

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Beak of the Week – American Coot

American Coot (Fulica americana) Family: Rallidae ✏️ By Averi Lohman, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon The American Coot is probably one of the goofiest birds you can see in the United States. This duck-like bird, just a bit smaller than a mallard, has a peculiar habit of bobbing its head forward […]

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A Birdy Holiday Gift Guide

By Zineera Seth, Marketing and Events Manager It’s that time of year – you want to find the most unique and thoughtful gifts for your friends and family. Whether you’re shopping for someone “difficult” or just out of fresh ideas, we’ve got you covered with our staff & volunteer picks […]

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Wrapping up Fall Migration 2021

By Kathy Sweezey, Bird-Friendly Communities Program Manager The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, and the migratory birds have moved on to their winter homes. Fall migration runs from mid-August through November each year with millions of birds passing through the greater Houston area. Some birds like […]

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Beak of the Week – Brown Booby

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) Family: Sulidae ✏️ By Hope Caliendo, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon Brown Boobies are a rarity in the United States, but they can occasionally be seen along the Bolivar Peninsula and can stray as far north as Canada. Their typical range revolves around tropical oceans worldwide where […]

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Beak of the Week – Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) Family: Cuculidae ✏️ By Ryan McGinty, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon The Greater Roadrunner is a large cuckoo that was born to run. While it is a weak flier, this bird is able to outrun a human, reaching speeds upward of 15 mph when running and even […]

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Not Just Any Walk on the Beach

By Lauren Miheli, Membership and Volunteer Manager On Saturday, September 18th, about 35 volunteers gathered to help improve shorebird habitat by cleaning up the beach at our Bolivar Flats Sanctuary. This event was part of a statewide effort to turn the tide against marine debris called Adopt-a-Beach. It was also […]

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Farewell to Houston Bird Week 2021!

By Alex Kneubehl, Bird Week Chair, Young Professionals Advisory Council Another Bird Week has come and gone. Houston Audubon’s third annual Bird Week was another resounding success made possible thanks to our great partner organizations, volunteers, and participants. The third annual Bird Week featured 39 events from 21 different organizations. […]

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Book on a Wing

By Sneed B. Collard III When my 13-year-old son Braden and I arrived at High Island in the spring of 2016, we quivered with anticipation. After two years of birding in our home state of Montana, we had finally decided to venture beyond our borders and attempt a modest ABA […]

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An Informal Guide to Creating Bird-Friendly Habitat

✏️ By Chris Bick, Houston Audubon 2021 Young Professionals Advisory Council I wanted to create an informal guide or informational source to creating a backyard habitat using my experience and my yard dimensions as the basis for the guide. These recommendations can be scaled to fit your yard size and […]

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Beak of the Week – Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) Family: Accipitridae The Broad-winged Hawk is a small sized raptor with a brown upper body, reddish head, barred undersides, and a black and white banded tail. Broad-winged Hawks are what birders like to call “Buteos” which refers to their genus. Buteos are typically distinguished from the […]

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Houston and Galveston birding beloved beyond the borders of Texas

✏️ By Lauren Miheli, Houston Audubon Membership and Volunteer Manager As you might expect, the majority of Houston Audubon’s members are from… that’s right, Texas. You might be surprised (as we were!) to learn that we have members in not only Texas, but in 21 other states around the country! […]

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Beak of the Week – Pileated Woodpecker

✏️ By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) Family: Picidae Records show that the Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America—the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and the Imperial Woodpecker were larger but are presumed extinct. An unmistakable, crested, red and black, crow-sized bird, […]

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From Prairie to License Plate: Photographing the Eastern Meadowlark

By Alan Murphy, Alan Murphy Photography Every April for the past twenty-five years, I photograph bird migration on the Upper Texas Coast. When I arrive on the coast and drive the back roads looking for birds, the first sounds I always hear is the loud, flutelike song of the Eastern […]

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Beak of the Week – Least Bittern

Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) Family: Ardeidae The Least Bittern is the smallest North American heron and blends into its marshy habitat exceptionally well. Measuring only about 12-13 inches, these tiny herons have a long neck, with a dark brown to black crown and back blending to warm tan on the […]

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Feathers aren’t Forever

By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon 2021 Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC) About this time every summer, we receive questions about ridiculous-looking birds: birds with oddly mismatched feathers, birds without feathers, birds that seem bedraggled or undernourished or sickly-looking. For the most part, these birds are perfectly fine! They’re just in the […]

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Beak of the Week – Downy Woodpecker

✏️ By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) Family: Picidae Perhaps the most common woodpecker in North America, the Downy Woodpecker thrives all across the continent: from the tree line in Alaska and Canada to the southernmost forests of California and Florida (Birds […]

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It’s Time to Turn your Lights Out, Texas!

✏️ By Anna Vallery, Houston Audubon Conservation Specialist, Bird-Friendly Communities Program Manager While you’re still hanging out by the pool and enjoying summer BBQs, many migratory birds are wrapping up their breeding seasons and getting ready to fly south for the winter. Fall migration kicks into gear in mid-August and continues […]

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Beak of the Week – Turkey Vulture

✏️ By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) Family: Cathartidae A hardy, adaptive bird, the Turkey Vulture thrives in the Houston area and beyond. It’s a bird you can often see high above the terrain, its wings upswept in a shallow dihedral, the […]

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Plastic Free Tips for a Plastic Free July!

✏️ By Anna Vallery, Conservation Specialist, Houston Audubon It is the last week of Plastic Free July, so most participants are now pros at identifying single-use plastic items in their life that can be replaced or avoided. To round-out the month, we wanted to share a few tips that Houston […]

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Beak of the Week – Roseate Spoonbill

By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) Family: Threskiornithidae Being married to a non-birder, I strive to make birding as easy and as convenient as possible for my family. I’m not always successful, of course—I sometimes return too late from a long day […]

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